Industry Insights

Sell More, Tap into 3 Product Stack Trends

By Ideas @ AppDirect / February 27, 2023


Are you curious what tech stacks are trending right now? Or are you looking for insight into having more productive customer conversations in the coming year?

In our January State of the Union webinar, our guest speakers dove into these topics and more, helping savvy advisors prepare for their next deal. Several industry experts joined the discussion, including:

Market trends in 2023

Tune into our State of the Union episode to hear from Joe Panettieri directly at minute 12:15 of the webinar.

‘There’s never a bad time to grow your business’

Joe Panettieri, Founder of Channel Angels, believes that despite the challenging environment—coming off the heels of a pandemic, looming recession, and sky-high interest rates—there is always a silver lining. Joe shared that when launching one of his first companies in 2008 during the financial crisis, he buckled down and weathered the economic storm. He reflects, Apple and Microsoft were both started during bleak economic times in the mid-70s. IBM began in 1911, which was another dark time for the economy.

While the economy always has an influence, if you remain true to your business objectives and ‘north star,’ Joe believes optimism can win.

He highlights three critical trends for 2023:

  1. An increase in focus on responsible, profitable growth amid high-interest rates.
  2. Continued platform consolidation in terms of advisors and partners standardizing repeatable, scalable, and simplified platforms to grow their businesses.
  3. AI has been a trend for years, but now it’s in the spotlight. Customers and advisors will need to be more selective about which solutions are best among a sea of options.

AI may be hot, but don’t overlook simplifying the stack

During the pandemic, UCaaS and CCaaS became huge areas for growth as remote work became the new norm. Joe believes that trend will continue, and we’ll see smaller providers competing against the bigger players by focusing on the customer experience.

“I think customer experience is near and dear to companies of all sizes,” Joe says. “Right now even the smallest of players realize that they can compete against the biggest in the world by focusing on the customer experience and shrinking that distance between the company and their own customers. It’s really creating a handshake that feels like a relationship. I think the way it's going to happen is through AI. It has two parts: automation part one and simplicity part two.”

Joe emphasizes that while AI is a hot topic right now, it’s not necessarily the topic advisors should lead with in customer conversations. AI runs behind the scenes and should be essentially seamless.

“I think the real conversation for the advisors is a focus on the 12 month and longer term plan for the end customer and to simplify the stack…The world is unpredictable right now…and the way to decrease the unpredictability is to increase your standardization .”

Why SASE will be a major focus in 2023 

Hear directly from Jon Brown, Sr. Director of Solution Architecture at Lumen, around minute 26:30 of our webinar.

Later in the conversation, Jon Brown, Sr. Director of Solution Architecture at Lumen, shared what products Lumen Technologies is most focused on in 2023 and how advisors can grow and scale with them.

One area Lumen is particularly focused on right now is SASE, or Secure Access Service Edge. SASE is an architecture that bundles network and Security-as-a-Service together into one single cloud service. And there are two critical reasons Jon believes SASE is so important today and for the foreseeable future:

  1. Applications no longer live in a central data center
  2. Employees no longer operate at a central HQ; many work on a hybrid model or entirely remotely.

With the rise of remote work, Jon believes it’s now critical that organizations have technologies that securely provide people with access to the right data and applications, which SASE brings to the table.

SASE and the customer experience

Tune into minute 30:14 of our webinar, to hear directly from Aqeel Shahid.

Aqeel Shahid, VP Global Strategic Partners at Vonage, went further to say that the capabilities and benefits of SASE also tie into the customer experience as well. The core infrastructure that SASE brings is critical because, as he puts it, “any application is only as good as the transport it’s riding on.”

A poor core network will impact contact center staff, voice quality, and engagement with the end customers.

The Vonage team is focused on delivering custom solutions because there’s no one-size-fits-all in this industry. Vonage is committed to simplifying the stack, making it easy for end customers to use, which will improve their engagement with their own customers.

Advisor opportunity: Customers transitioning to Google Workspace, plus Chrome OS for contact centers

Tune into minute 36:00 of our webinar, to hear directly from Aly Fitzpatrick.

Aly Fitzpatrick, Cloud Solutions Strategist at AppDirect, believes that one of the largest opportunities for advisors right now is helping customers navigate from G Suite subscriptions to Google Workspace.

“There’s a lot of effort and attention into security especially with the enterprise editions, and then really looking at AI within these applications. Google was the original algorithm, so when we’re looking at AI within Google Workspace, and Google Contact Center, and how Google Chrome will function, it’s about leveraging what is already built…”

Aly’s advice for talking with customers about Google: “Be aware and be fearless.”

She recommends asking customers what they’re using for email and other tools, and to remind them that their technology stack is interconnected. For example, when selling a contact center solution (CCaaS) with Vonage, ask how they’re deploying it, what hardware they’re using, and whether that would be a good fit for Chrome. As a cloud-first OS for devices, Chrome provides remote management, and a productive agent experience that can secure and optimize contact centers.

How Google is partnering with companies like Vonage

Hear more about how Google is partnering with companies like Vonage at minute 33:45 of our webinar.

Two years ago, Google launched its Chrome Enterprise Recommended program in partnership with the top UCaaS and CCaaS providers, including Vonage.

As Jimmy Riordan, Chrome Strategic Partnerships Manager at Google explains, these UCaaS and CCaaS solutions are tested, certified, and optimized to run more efficiently on Chrome OS. He recommends that the advisor community prioritize speed, security, and productivity for remote information workers and contact center employees– which you can do with Chrome.

As an example, he shares that devices are estimated to run 76 percent faster on Chrome than on Windows devices. He also noted reports of 24 percent fewer security attacks on Chrome and an increase in agent productivity when compared to those working with other operating systems.

Avoid “neglecting the hardware,” customers are looking for a complete contact center solution

Hear more about Chrome OS and delivering a complete contact center solution in minute 38:45 of our webinar.

Jimmy’s advice for talking to customers about Chrome OS and UCaaS or CCaaS is to focus on delivering a complete solution.

“I've sold UCaaS for 13 or 14 years before coming to Google and I can see hardware as an ugly word for advisors. With UCaaS solutions like Vonage that have chat, text, and meeting functionality, traditional phones on desks have fallen to the wayside. However, one thing that’s not going away anytime soon is the computer.”

Jimmy suggests that advisors help their customers think about hardware, including computer hardware and Chrome-certified devices, to build a complete contact center solution for agents.

Don’t shy away from the price versus value discussion

Curious how to handle price vs. value conversations with customers? Skip to minute 48:00 of our webinar to hear more!

What about when the customer has a preconceived notion of what solutions to use? This is often the case when the customer is focused primarily on cost savings. They may prefer to go with a less expensive solution to protect the bottom line.

As Jon explains, if you go into the discussion purely with a focus on price, you’re missing the most important thing – value.

His advice is to take a step back and look at the business objectives – where do they want to go and what technology is best suited to meet those objectives?

He breaks it down: “Which is better, a 20 percent savings versus boosting your organization’s productivity by 20 percent?” What if the overall effect on the bottom line is greater than the initial cost-savings? Encourage price-focused customers to ask these questions to help steer them toward solutions that deliver the biggest value or return on investment.

For more insights into market trends, the economy, and technology in 2023, register for our State of the Union webinar series.